Mark Thomas Gibson (American, b. 1980)
Banquet, 2016. Etching and aquatint on
Painter and draftsman Mark Thomas Gibson’s first published print, Banquet is a satirical image with references to art history and the culture of comics influenced by social and political context. An etching and aquatint produced in collaboration with master printer Greg Burnet, Banquet fuses evocations of old master engravings of boar’s heads— symbols of ferocity and strength—with Gibson’s contemporary comic book character of the wolf-man, both a hero and a villain. The rich tonalities of the aquatint technique translate Gibson’s interest in light and dark into a masterful, yet playful rendering full of tension between the “high” and the “low”. The image depicts the moment when the wolf-man is at a banquet and served a head similar to his own. He immediately realizes his friends are more than wolves in sheep’s clothing. This scene relates to the larger narrative of Gibson’s 320-page artist’s book Some Monsters Loom Large (2016), which accompanies the print. The exhibition Black Pulp! is co-curated by Gibson and William Villalongo.
Mark Thomas Gibson
From Robert Storr’s introduction to Some Monster’s Loom Large: The ambiguity of Gibson’s main character—a worried wolf or coyote who struggles to survive in a harsh rendition of a Western-like movie version of the Land of Manifest Destiny—stems from the fact that this same critter also appears in the totally unsympathetic role of marauding cavalry soldiers stampeding under the banner of the Lone Star State, and as a member of angry demonstrating mobs. So if he is “Everyman,” then every man is his own biggest problem. And, thus we return to the ambiguous and ambivalent dialects of Walt Kelly. And also Philip Guston, who in the same era that Gil Scott Heron wrote his rap, cast everyone from Richard Nixon to the painter himself as that arch villain of American history, a Ku Klux Klansman. All of this noted, Gibson’s art is topical in the same way as Heron’s or even Guston’s. It is flat-out mythic. And flat-out—though deeply chiaroscuro and often wildly undulating—weird. Or, to revive another Seventies turn of phrase, outright trippy. His is a Book of Revelation by a prophet who isn’t afraid of going to hell so much as he is on full alert after having been there. In that regard Some Monsters Loom Large shares with the work of Raymond Pettibon not only graphic tropes, but an underlying sense of combined exaltation and despair. And a thudding, thumping soundtrack to which the lyrics are text fragments in disconcerting juxtaposition to uncanny images.
Mark Thomas Gibson (American, b. 1980, Miami, Florida) is a New York-based artist and full-time lecturer at Yale School of Art. Gibson received his BFA from The Cooper Union and his MFA from Yale School of Art in Painting & Printmaking, where he received the Ely Harwood Schless Memorial Fund Award. Gibson is also an adjunct professor at School of Visual Arts. He is represented by Fredericks & Freiser, New York, where his second solo show Some Monsters Loom Large was on view March—April 2016. Recent group shows include A Being In The World at Salon 94 in New York (Summer 2016) and American Optimism at Able Baker Contemporary in Portland, Maine (Summer 2016). The exhibition Black Pulp! is co-organized by Gibson and William Villalongo.